The dish highlights tasty broth, flat pieces of fried pork, attracting both locals and foreigners who taste it. 

A bowl of Cao Lau noodle soup

Most people are curious about the name of the dish. An explanation says Cao lau is actually the local pronunciation of “delicious dish” in Chinese. Another says a long time ago, traders coming to Hoi An wanted to enjoyed noodles served on the top floor of eateries to easily look after their goods. This is the reason why the dish is called “cao lầu,” which means high buildings in Vietnamese.

Like Quang-style noodle soup, cao lau is a specialty of the central region in general and Hoi An in particular. However, some may not tell the difference between the two dishes. In fact, ingredients and the preparation of cao lau and Quang-style noodle soup both have their own features.

The noodles used for cao lau are shorter than those for Quang noodle soup. The rice for cao lau noodles has to be soaked in water mixed with cajuput firewood ash. The step helps the noodles have a light yellow color. In addition, rice after being ground has to be mixed with water from the well-known Ba Le well in Hoi An which is believed to create the special taste of the noodles.

Hoi An Market - PHOTO: LE TRANG

Another difference is the crispy rice paper served with cao lau is brown while that for Quang-style noodle is rice paper with black sesame. At some local eateries, cooks use roasted pork skin instead of rice paper.

The balance of flavor is what makes cao lau special—including noodles, slices of grilled pork, crispy rice paper, herbs collected from Tra Que vegetale village and Hoi An-style chili paste.

If you don’t have time to travel to Hoi An to enjoy this specialty, visit some eateries serving the dish in Saigon like Hoi pho Cao Lau, Vi Quang Cao Lau, Boong Cao Lau, etc. The dishes served there may be as good as the original. SGT
 

Lam Nhu

 
Must-try street food options for a day trip to Hoi An

Must-try street food options for a day trip to Hoi An

Situated in the central province of Quang Nam, the ancient city of Hoi An leaves a great impression on visitors due to its fabulous culture, friendliness of local people, shopping options, and range of street food. 

Sampling delicacies at Hoi An market

Sampling delicacies at Hoi An market

In reply to my friends’ question on which is the first place to go to and the first dish to taste after the social distancing period, I admit that I will immediately run to Hoi An market to order a big bowl of ‘mi Quang’ noodles